DreadWorld Review: Burying The Ex (2014/15)

I have a vague memory of verbally sucking off Joe Dante in my review of his 2009 film The Hole - except it appears that I never wrote that review and my vague memory is shit. Had I written it I would have praised Dante's ability to take a sliver of small town Americana, turn it on it's head and create subtle, yet effective social commentary. He did it with both Gremlins, and his segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie. But his powers truly reached their apex with The Burbs, an uncommon look at small town suburbia in post-Reagan America. Dante moved on to other types of projects as the years progressed, most notably Small Soldiers, and animated film that captured some of Dante's off kilter tone - but hit light enough for the kids audience it was meant for.

As the decade progressed, Dante descended into a self imposed theatrical film exile. He gravitated towards episodic television after film project after film project was never brought to fruition. Dante finally threw his skewed suburban vision back into the ring with 2009's The Hole. While a nice way to remind people what Dante was capable of, the film crumbled under the weight of it's third act. Six years later, Dante is back with Burying the Ex, a film that completely misses the mark with any of it's social commentary, but is still charming, witty, and even at times creepy. While light on substance it's certainly a film that's heavy on fun.

Max (Anton Yelchin) has a relationship problem. He knows his current girlfriend, Evelyn (Ashley Greene) isn't right for him. Unfortunately, Evelyn isn't on the same page and continues pushing the relationship forward. Max's misery is only exacerbated when he meets Olivia (Alexandra Daddario), his dream girl. Finally finding the cajones to break up with Evelyn, he invites her to meet up in a park, where fortune smiles on Max and Evelyn is hit by a bus and killed. But death cannot stop Evelyns true love for Max - presenting a myriad of complications when Max tries to move his relationship with Olivia to the next level.

There is nothing patently offensive with Burying the Ex. Yelchin is his normal engaging, wonderful self. Like he did with Odd Thomas, Yelchin elevates the entire project with his affable performance. Daddario is, of course, ridiculously beautiful, but still likable and Greene acquits herself well, almost washing that Twilight stink off in my eyes.

The fact that there is nothing offensive it the main failing of the film. I'm not expecting Last House on the Left, but it seemed like the film went out of it's way to not be too harsh on anyone or anything. Evelyn, while certainly Type-A and pushy, certainly doesn't do anything that would warrant the audience being happy when she dies. It's not until she discovers the taste of flesh that she does anything even remotely "evil". Similarly, Olivia is just too perfect for Max. Life just doesn't really work that way...and where is this neighborhood where multiple spook shops and a horror flavored ice cream shop can exist and still pay the rent.

Burying the Ex is broad, and that is a shame because Joe Dante has never been broad before. The film could have been directed by "any breathing director" with similar results. That's the most disappointing thing about the film.

Now, Burying the Ex is pretty funny. Not laugh out loud funny, but you will certainly be wearing a smile when the credits roll - and really for all the griping about it not being Dante-ish enough, isn't that what going to a film is all about? That being said, Dante certainly peppers in enough horror references throughout the film to make even the most seasoned horror fan sit up and take notice, which is pretty cool.

Burying the Ex is a pretty funny paint by numbers comedy that is missing the bite other Joe Dante films have. It's clever, if not predictable, with some good performances and fun meta moments. If your girl (or guy - we don;t discriminate) isn't quite in the mood for something more hard core horror, then Burying the Ex may be right up their alley.

*** stars out of *****

That's it for me. As always, thanks for reading and "Enjoy every sandwich"

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